New Chevy Bolt a Leap Forward in Affordable Clean Driving

, Senior vehicles engineer | September 13, 2016, 3:07 pm EDT
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General Motors just released the EPA fuel economy data for their upcoming Chevrolet Bolt. The battery-electric car will get an estimated 238 miles per charge, considerably more than many expected and also greater than Tesla’s estimates for their future Model 3 sedan.

One of the lowest emission vehicles ever

While the range announcement will get the most attention, GM also announced that the Bolt will be one of the most efficient electric vehicles (EV) on the market, bested only by the BMW i3. Based on UCS’s most recent analysis of the emissions from electric vehicles, driving the Bolt in California will result in total global warming emissions equal to a (theoretical) 104 mpg gasoline car. In the Northwest, the emissions will be even lower at equal to an 111mpg gasoline car, while Upstate New York comes in at over 160 mpg. Curious about your region? Use our calculator to find the emissions from the Bolt or many other electric cars.

A potential milestone from an EV leader

The 4-door hatchback Bolt is slated to go on sale (in limited markets initially) as early as the end of 2016 and the base model is expected to retail for less than $30,000, after the $7,500 federal tax credit. When it does hit the market, it will be the first electric car to have over 200 miles range with an affordable price tag. Not coincidentally, the Bolt is produced by General Motors, one four companies UCS found to be an EV leader in the US in a recent UCS report. One reason GM is beating the competition to market with the Bolt is that it has the experience of building and selling more plug-in EVs in the US than any other carmaker. If the Bolt sells well, it will be an important milestone for clean transportation in the US. It will also hopefully be a wake-up call for the automakers that are lagging behind in making EVs.

Preproduction Chevy Bolt on display in 2015

Preproduction Chevy Bolt on display in 2015

David Reichmuth

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  • solodoctor

    I look forward to future reports on Bolt’s reliability. The prospects are exciting, to say the least!

  • Bart_R

    Want to help your region break free of the stranglehold of fossil?

    Support the Whitehouse-Schatz American Opportunity Carbon Fee Bill for a start.

    And then go out and hold your utilities commissioners’ feet to the fire: fossil hasn’t been a fiscally responsible choice in over a decade. If you have fossil built in your region newer than 1995, you’re paying too much for electricity.

    Renewables hit grid parity years ago across the board. Geothermal has always been at least 40% cheaper than any fossil; hydroelectric has always been cheaper than any fossil; wind and solar are now cheaper than any fossil.

    What are your regional utilities doing still in fossil?

  • Laura

    Thanks for this. Did UCS put out an article calculating price differences between electric and gas comparing actual costs to run a gas powered vs electric; how soon in miles does the cost of the car get recouped in gas purchase savings?

    • We have some information on the average cost savings for driving on electricity. However, the details of how much you would save depends on a number of factors including the cost of electricity , cost of gasoline, the efficiency of the car, and how far you drive in a year, so it’s difficult to say exactly what the savings would be for a particular case. Many utility companies now have information on the cost to use an electric car, so I suggest starting there.

      What I can say is that recharging electric cars at home is often much cheaper than using gasoline. For example, the Chevy Bolt is rated at 0.28 kWh electricity per mile. On my utility’s EV rate plan, the cost of electricity during the late evening would be about $0.115 per kWh. So driving the Bolt would cost me about $3.22 for 100 miles. Even the best gasoline car would be double that cost.

      • Laura

        Sounds like fiscally responsible choice to buy EV over gas even not counting CO2 emissions! Thanks much Dave.